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Leadville, Colorado, United States

Mineral Belt Loop Trail

At over 10,000 feet in elevation, the Mineral Belt Loop Trail will take your breath in more ways than one.

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 11.6 miles / 18.7 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
 
Overview: Located in Leadville, Colorado, the Mineral Belt Loop Trail is an 11.6 mile asphalt path that is replete with history, scenery, and recreation. The riding is smooth and the educational opportunities are bountiful.
Set in Colorado mining country, the trail is dotted with historical signs and remnants of a rich geological past. When it is hot down in Denver and Boulder, it is often cooler up in the higher elevations of Lake County. Views of the Collegiate Peaks and Colorado's highest peak of Mt. Elbert are plentiful from the trail.
This trail is perfect for railroad buffs, mining fans, and history aficionados. After a leisurely bike ride or stroll on the trail, the town of Leadville offers numerous restaurants, antique stores, and museums.
In addition to bicycling, hiking, and nordic skiing, the trail is ideal for inline skating during the summer months.


Tips: Remember the high altitude and come prepared. Bring plenty of sunscreen and dress in layers. The weather can change dramatically from one hour to the next.
Check local weather conditions before venturing up to the high country. The climate is quite different in Leadville than it is on the Front Range (Denver) of Colorado.

Points of Interest

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Poverty Flats

Although this is not the main trailhead, I recommend starting from this point because you begin a gradual climb from here and after a mile or so, you're immersed in the beautiful scenery of the trail.
Landmark
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trail beside rail

This is a good spot to view the old railroad line as the tracks are clearly visible from here.
Information
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mining history

The trail is well marked with historical information and memorabilia. In the accompanying photos, you can see an educational sign and a pneumatic drill.
Building
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Tabor's Matchless Mine

This is the site of one of the greatest "rags-to-riches" stories ever told.
After making a vast fortune in the mining industry, Horace Tabor and his stealth bride "Baby Doe" Tabor lost it all.
Baby Doe's frozen corpse was found in the cabin near the Matchless Mine. Remnants of the cabin and mine are seen in the accompanying photo and are easily viewed from the trail.
Landmark
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Greenback Crib Wall

This was the site of a heated confrontation between two competing railroads during the heyday of the Leadville mining era.
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Iron Hill aspen grove

There are many wonderful spots along the Mineral Belt Loop Trail from which to view the ever-changing aspen trees. These trees are magnificent during all four seasons with their shimmering green in the summer, their golden splendor in the fall, and their stark white bark in the winter and spring.
Landmark
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King of the Sawatch

From this point onward, there are many good views of Colorado's highest peak, Mt. Elbert.
Building
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old jail cell and general store

The trail cuts right between two old buildings from the wild west era.
Parking
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Main trailhead and milemarker 0

For easy access off highway 24 and plenty of parking, this is the main trailhead for the Mineral Belt Loop trail. It is also the official starting point for the trail.
Junction
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confusing junction

You will ride on the road for a short stretch here. Look for a light green arrow on the road. If you are going in a clockwise direction, you will turn right onto the road for about 100 yards and then you'll see the trail begin again on your left. The bottom line is; if you've gone more than a couple hundred yards on the road, and you haven't found the trail again, you probably went the wrong way.
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school and cemeteries

In this stretch of trail, you pass near a school, a large football/soccer field, and some cemeteries. You will not actually see the cemeteries, but their is a sign acknowledging their existence.
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major road crossing

Be careful crossing highway 24/Poplar Street. This is a busy highway, and you may have to wait for traffic to pass. Do not assume that vehicles will stop for you.
Pictures in this guide taken by: trailsnet
Reviews
theoutdoorholic
If I am ever in your area, will you bring me here and do this trail together? It looks awesome.

by theoutdoorholic on Sep 12, 2010

Mineral Belt Loop Trail Trail Map


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trailsnet
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I am a recently retired teacher whose new "career" is to explore as many trails as possible. I am especially...

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